Walk With Me : Walking Motivation

August 10, 2010

Several months ago my stepson received a new Nintendo DS game.  Some crazy Japanese critters, Pokémon something (I don’t remember which game – they all confuse me greatly, I’m amazed kids can keep them straight).  What interested me was the 2 inch plastic cookie-shaped thing that itcame with, called a “PokéWalker”. It’s a little gadget that the kid connects to his Nintendo DS & then shoves in his pocket and the gadget measures the steps taken, and that helps the little critter the kid selects to progress to another level.  Please don’t ask me any questions, I’ve barely understood what I’ve just told you, and I had to listen to hours of enthusiastic 10-year-old explanation to get that much clear.

Two Problems, One Picture
Creative Commons License photo credit: Chorazin (no, my stepson does NOT get to drink beer – but can you imagine the depth of conversations these guys must have since they all walk around with their game gadgets even when they go to the bar!  I wonder how many of them are single?)

What interested me was watching my 10 year old stepson run around like an maniac for days on end, taking extra steps, running back and forth with this thing in his pocket.  He said he was doing it to make his MewToo (or whatever the heck) character develop faster.  I just saw “extra movement!” “exercise is fun!” and “wouldn’t this be great motivation!” as I watched him run up and down stairs as he was waiting for us, run back and forth to the end of the street as he chatted with his friends, and generally burn energy at a rate that outpaced himself – which is no easy feat.

I was intrigued for myself but not the least bit interested in needing to deal with attacking monsters or spaceships or whatever button-pushing attacking thing happens on the PokéWalker, but the idea of an automatic counter of my steps was appealing.

When my stepson started with the Nintendo DS a few years ago my husband, in his excessive glory, bought several.  I don’t know why he was thinking I’d play the games with them – I’ve never been a big video gamer, and I was immediately the worst of the family at Super Mario Brothers, and then the worst at some silly go-cart game, and then there was a shooting thing that I also sucked at.  I was pretty good at Sudoku, but I actually prefer that on paper, so that didn’t last long.   In fact, my Nintendo DS hasn’t served as much more than a backup machine for when my stepson runs out of battery, or an extra machine that he can use with a friend.

Our little foray in the forest with the PokéWalker woke me up, however, and I soon went searching to see what I could find about electronic pedometers, in particular those that pack a little fun.  I found one.  Here in Europe, it’s called “Walk With Me”, but in the US it’s marketed rather dully as as Personal Trainer : Walking.  It  gives you a nice little avatar and a little pedometer that clips on your clothes (or slips in a pocket).  I’ve used it almost every day for almost 3 months now.

The output gives you the steps you’ve taken each day, along with graphs of when & a few other details.  I like that you can use your cumulative steps to “walk the world” in a silly virtual tour, that has you learning all kinds of obscure trivia (did you know that all gorillas have Type B blood?) but tracking your progress.  To date I’m at 44% of the world, and once the world is done there is a game on lighting up a house that I can apply my steps to as well.

Here’s a video showing it in action :

I’ve found it to be helpful in motivating myself to move more.  I’m proud that at last check my daily average was above 10,000 steps, although most days I don’t hit that many (days when I run errands on foot in Paris really help push that average up).  Thanks to Boof using a pedometer & encouraging me, I now have my daily step target set at 8,000 and I often make it.  I use waiting times at airports to pace the hallways hoping to turn my indicator light to green.

I’m a believer in using every motivation trick in the book, and embracing flavors of the day for as long as they last.  I was worried I’d quickly lose interest in this gadget, but unlike my stepson (who is now on to some Lego-based game instead of Pokémon) I’m still finding it amusing – and motivational!

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